Pastor’s Corner – January 14, 2024

The underlying theme for this coming Sunday is a sense of calling in life. When I went to Princeton Seminary I thought I was well prepared with my undergraduate studies in biblical and philosophy majors. I was raised in a pastor’s home and felt I knew something about what it means to be a pastor. My sense of call began early with the mythology of my birth story told by my parents how I almost didn’t make it but somehow through difficult birth process at home (not at hospital) I survived because mom prayed that if I was born alive I would be offered to serve as God’s servant and for her that meant being a man of cloth. This story enforced from early on that being a pastor was my call-in life or destiny. This story didn’t apply to my two younger brothers. I was a first-born child. And like the story of Jesus’s childhood story presenting himself according to the law of Moses as first child to the temple. I don’t know how much of this was the motive or framework for my parents, but to be sure there was no question that I would be a minister in the future. Their influence without a doubt was significant in my early sense of my call. However, things began to unravel and challenge as I began to question and grow as an adult with different interests and gifts I felt I could use in my life and considered other options, like going to art school or even leaving the church altogether! At this stage of defining my call was more closely related with a job, making a living.

So when I was in seminary, I felt I needed a certain sense of professional proficiency or mastery in theology, polity, pastoral skills, counseling etc. to be an effective and confident minister with some answers to spiritual questions we were struggling with.

Boy was I wrong!

The questions I wrestled with began to reframe my understanding of calling in life. Vocation was a means not an end. Faith leads me to love God and love people, to serve and make our world a better place. We all have gifts and ways in which we can respond to God’s call to love, so that we may be more fully alive as human beings. And it’s okay to not have answers to life or have it all figured out. Rather I graduated from seminary with more questions with deeper appreciation of uncertainty and faith. The horizon of my faith was wide open ended. I began to see greater connections and universal values that make us who we are as human beings. The questions I began to wrestle with were human conditions and predicament that demands faith response. The question was no longer about whether I should be a pastor or not, but how can I serve this greater vision to participate in liberation from human suffering and conditions that dehumanize and create violence in our world?

Now having lived through different stages in life and more life lived to look back than future, I’ve learned to let go of things that I felt were important to me and embrace an uncertain future with faith. I’ve learned to accept my mortality and began to frame my life with greater meaning in ways I could not have imagined when I was in seminary. Over the years, the congregations I served taught me through their faith, witness, love and resilience, through their life and death, how we are all members of one another and blessed by the grace of God to hold each other and shape our lives together to bear witness to God’s desire for our world. Yes, I do believe in the priesthood of all believers and that we share one baptism! How has life shaped your sense of calling today?      Come let us worship God. Come and see what God has in store for us!  

Pastor Dae